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New Construction Delays: What's Normal, What's Excessive

by Vincent Zhang 12/13/2021

Photo by Tima Miroshnichenko from Pexels

A construction crew has to deal with a lot of issues when they're on the job. No matter how careful the preparation is, it's impossible to expect that everything will go exactly as planned. That being said, there are plenty of "professionals" in the market who may try to take advantage of a situation by pushing back deadlines or making excuses. We'll look at the inner workings of this question and how you can tell when the crew has gone too far.

What's Normal

While it's never easy to get bad news, the following reasons are typically legitimate.

Sudden Requested Changes

Beyond anything else, unexpected changes to the plans can have a huge impact on the timeline of your project. This is a difficult one for many people to understand because of the major ripple effects just one change can have. To the future homeowner, it seems like a tiny request. To the builders though, it might mean major adjustments, work reassignments and potentially even redoing certain sections of the home.


Any outdoor project can quickly be derailed by intense wind, snow or rain. For instance, a hole dug for the foundation can quickly become a pit with enough precipitation. Roofers might not be able to safely get up on the roof in high winds. Even extreme temperatures can put new construction in danger, depending on the specifications of the home. For instance, equipment might not function as well once the thermostat falls below zero.

Supply Shortages

Out-of-stock material doesn't only mean things like custom tile for your bathroom. Construction crews typically use their own tools and supplies. If they need to replace something (e.g., the chain on a forklift), these items might be harder to locate than anticipated. These kinds of delays can be solved quickly with a little ingenuity, but not always.

Why Communication Matters

Even when a construction crew has a solid excuse as to why they're delaying the project, they need to explain their reasons. Bad weather doesn't always mean the project has to shut down completely.

It's important for them to detail why they may need a time extension and how it can affect the rest of the work. The same is true with unexpected requests and supply shortages. The more context a builder gives you, the more confidence it should give you as a homeowner.

What's Excessive

A lot of construction delays can be avoided with the right planning. For example, checking the weather for the week can help builders adjust the work based on conditions. As the owner, you can feel free to push back on a crew for their lack of forethought.

Unfortunately, there can be more serious errors when it comes to construction delays. If the crew is overbooked or the construction company used a poor subcontractor, this isn't necessarily your responsibility. Unless the contract acknowledges that you assume liability for these occurrences, taking advantage of this kind of delay is an example of going too far.

What You Can Do

There are certain excuses that are fairly easy to check on. If you can find a supposedly rare building material on the internet with just a quick Google search, it would be an easy way to confirm that the construction crew is trying to get away with something nefarious.

The best thing that you can do is stay involved from the very beginning. Even before you hire a construction crew, you should be looking at their reviews, learning more about how they communicate and what specific protocols they use to protect homeowners. It's always easier to fool somebody who's too busy to take part in the process.

The Takeaway

As you develop a rapport with the builders and decision-makers, you should feel comfortable asking questions to better understand the magnitude of the delay. If you're getting verifiable information, it's a good sign that the construction crew is doing everything in their power to make good on their original promises.

If you're getting nothing but pushback and vague answers, this should give you more cause for concern. In this case, you could use this as leverage to either renegotiate the budget or hire additional workers at no cost to you.

About the Author

Vincent Zhang

I am a real estate broker, property manager, and investor, located in Ann Arbor, Michigan. To each client, I bring close to a decade of experience in real estate, first as a real estate investor, then manager, and now love to share my experience and knowledge with property buyers and sellers as a real estate broker. Since attending the University of Michigan in 2005, I have lived in Ann Arbor ever since. My exceptional knowledge of the market as an investor and property manager provides a unique perspective and competitive advantage to my clients for selling and buying both residential and investment properties.

I have successfully managed investment properties in Ypsilanti and Kalamazoo and have conducted real estate transactions throughout southeast Michigan. Whether clients are looking for their first home, vacation homes, or the home of their dreams, I will be able to stay on top of the process, remove obstacles and make the real estate deals as pleasurable as possible. I enjoy working with people and finding ways to share a laugh or two in the process. I take pride in being available to my clients and being responsive to their needs.

In addition to my residential property expertise, and my multicultural background, I am capable of working with international investors and home buyers to make their international property purchases smoother and trouble-free. If you are interested in the acquisition of investment homes for your children while they attend the University of Michigan, as a property manager, investor, and broker, I will be able to help you make that reality come true.

I graduated from the University of Michigan and own and operate several businesses in Ann Arbor and Ypsilanti. In addition to my real estate experience, I am also a technology enthusiast and am always on the hunt to use technology and media to enhance the buying and selling experience. 

If you are looking to make your first home purchase, or are trying to sell your home, give me a call and I can guide you through the services that I can offer you to help you start along the journey. I take great pride in my work and it would be an honor for me to represent you and your needs.

Yours truly, Vincent Zhang